Interviews

12Jun

We Bow to Brendon – Creator of the Kabbee App for Windows 8 Phone

Kabbee's Busy Developer Bee - Brendon Bezuidenhout

Kabbee’s Busy Developer Bee – Brendon Bezuidenhout

What phone platform do you use, personally?

Windows Phone 8 (WP8) on the Nokia Lumia 1020; I jumped ship from Apple when Windows Phone 7 (WP7) first hit the scenes back in 2010 – But if I’m REALLY honest I’m on the developer preview program so I am already playing around with Windows Phone 8.1 so I can get to grips with some of the new features to help make the Kabbee experience on the Windows Phone that little bit more easier. There are quite a number of features in 8.1 I am very interested to try out to ensure that our users are given the best experience they can on the Windows Phone platform.

What do you like the most about the new Kabbee app?

The slick user experience first and foremost – The Windows Phone app for Kabbee is a completely new mobile experience and utilises Microsoft’s ‘modern design’.  This is exemplified by clean, uncluttered screens and minimized amounts of text.  This is a bit of a journey for all of us here in utilising the modern design, with its foundation partly in Bauhaus philosophy we want to ensure that we continually evolve the app and give a fast, fluid user experience that immerses our users.

What do you think Windows Phone users would find most useful?

The fast, responsive feel of the app and being a completely native built app. We started with a completely clean slate on this one and the only influences from our other devices was our API. There are so many nice little touches that the app will give to users from all walks;  but the most useful feature I think would be our notification bee that pops up his helpful head here and there around the app. It’s a completely unique feature to the WP platform so I’m afraid you’ll have to get a Windows Phone device to experience the awesomeness of it.

What’s the feature you are most proud of?

Track My Kabbee most definitely – This piece of work required a team effort form the server and the mobile team to get it just right. There were a number of technical challenges which were rather fun to overcome and let me flex some of my creativity within the code. Looking back on it now and the iterations the feature has taken it has evolved quite beautifully and I’m proud to have been part of the team that made it happen.

What’s the next big thing you are currently working on?

I’m juggling several projects at the moment at Kabbee so I’m kept interested and out of trouble, but the most one I’m working on in spare time is a better messaging infrastructure within the app to ensure our users are made aware of important information about their journeys.

How many of your friends have you been able to recommend using the Free Cabs programme?

Lets just say I’ve not had to pay for quite a few cabs with the referrals I’ve made ;)

How often do you take a cab and what do use minicabs for most, work or pleasure?

Quite often actually – I live in Suffolk so there are nights when I have to catch a later train or have a night out that I need to catch a cab to my home village. But when I’m in London I can now happily use the Kabbee app on my phone without having to borrow a friends’ iPhone.

What’s your second favourite app (after Kabbee…of course), and why?

Run+ is almost my most used app on my phone. I do a lot of running and spend my lunches out and about running through the parks in North London or on weekends around the English countryside training for marathons and my first ultra-marathon in late August.

What song would make you ask your minicab driver to crank up the volume?

Tomahawk by BT & Adam K – This is the heartbeat of the desert and reminds me of Burning man when my partner proposed to me.

6Jun

Kabbee CEO requests TFL to allow minicabs to use bus lanes

Kabbee-Logo-RGB-Standard

 Justin Peters

CEO and Founder of Kabbee

1 The Broadway

Crouch End

London

N8 8DU

Friday 6th June, 2014

Leon Daniels

Transport for London

11th Floor, Zone R4

Palestra

197 Blackfriars Road

London

SE1 8NJ

Dear Leon,

I am writing to request temporary access to London’s bus lanes for licensed minicabs from 2pm on Wednesday 11th June 2014, during the time that black cab drivers plan to demonstrate.

The fact that black cabs won’t be using the bus lanes, we hope that you will consider granting minicabs access, to attempt to keep London moving.

Since our launch in June 2011, the Kabbee app has been downloaded by more than 400,000 Londoners, who use the app to access 70 fleets and over 10,000 licensed minicabs.  Kabbee is designed to Make Minicabs Mighty, to help Londoners move around the city – this request is part of our mission.

You may remember that during London’s recent tube strikes, I personally asked for Transport for London to grant London’s licensed minicabs temporary access to bus lanes, to which you replied:

‘During the recent RMT strike the largest number of buses ever were deployed on London’s streets, carrying around an extra million passengers and playing a crucial role in keeping London moving.

‘To allow additional traffic to use our bus lanes, including private hire vehicles, would only cause disruption to these services which would make no sense at all.’

During the hours when 15,000 black cabs are going to be absent from the bus lanes, surely it makes sense to allow minicabs to keep London moving.

I, along with millions of Londoners, would appreciate your consideration of this request, and if you are unable grant permission, please quantify your reason for this.

Yours sincerely,

Justin Peters

CEO & Founder, Kabbee

23May

Bloomin’ Brilliant!

Thomas Paisley (far left) has won Kabbee’s Flower Show social media competition

Thomas Paisley (far left) has won Kabbee’s Flower Show social media competition

For each journey booked via Kabbee to and from the Chelsea Flower Show this year, we donated £1 to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust (BBCT), supporting it on its mission to save Britain’s bees from decline. In total, 116 Kabbee journeys were made to and from the venue this year, resulting in a grand donation of £116 to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.

In conjunction with this campaign, Kabbee launched a social media competition to help promote the charity initiative, whereby people were encouraged to share the initiative with their friends and followers, to help raise awareness in support of the BBCT.

The lucky winner, Thomas Paisley, received tickets for the next RHS Flower Show on 8-13th July, at Hampton Court Palace.

We spoke to Tom to see what he gets up to in his spare time; Tom was born and raised in London and is very fond of travelling and exploring London for its quaint bars and restaurants. He loves all things digital and technology based and works as a Digital Marketing consultant, as well as owning a small business. Tom has one sibling and aspires to buy a family home in Dulwich in the near future.

The 23 year-old from Croydon in South London, commented on winning the tickets; “I’m delighted that I have won the tickets for the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show as it is one of those calendar events that I have always wanted to attend, and is the perfect occasion to spend time with my mum. I know how much demand there is for tickets, so I’m considering myself very lucky.”

“It’s great to see that Kabbee are working to support charities such as the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, and I will be happy to support any future charity initiatives that Kabbee is involved with.”

He also commented on his experience with Kabbee;I’ve had a great experience using Kabbee, it’s such an easy to use app. I found the right cab for me every time I’ve used it, and always receive such a friendly service. I highly recommend it.”

Kabbee also has future plans to support the BBCT charity, once again by donating £1 for every journey made to and from the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show between 8th and 13th July.

20May

Luck of the Irish – Brendan bags pot of gold with Kabbee!

Kabbee partnered with Londonist to run an exclusive competition, to offer one lucky winner £250 credit to travel around the busy streets of London.

Brendan & Maeve

The winner was Brendan Kenny, based in Willesden. We spoke to Brendan to find out how he’ll be spending his prize…

Brendan Kenny lives with his fiancée Maeve in Willesden, in the borough of Brent and moved there last August, from their home in Ireland. One of the main factors they considered when moving house was how accessible their location is to the city and the public transport nearby. They have a tube station and a regular night bus close to their home.

The soon-to-be-wed couple don’t often use minicabs due to the high prices back from the city – they are well accustomed to the traditional night bus journey, and have managed to blend in with the loud singing by groups of drunken teenagers, and beer bottles rolling up and down the top seating area of the bus. However, they do value the minicab services when travelling to and from the airport to visit their home in Ireland.

After winning £250 worth of Kabbee credit, Brendan tells us what he plans to do with it: “Without a car, it can be extremely difficult to get around, so this Kabbee credit is the perfect prize for us. Maeve and I can use this credit to get home quicker after our next few nights out – and we do enjoy a good night out. We’d expect the credit to last for at least a couple of months; it’ll probably depend on what far-flung parts of London we find ourselves in future.”

“I recently won another competition online, so myself and a few friends are going for a three course dinner with petit fours, cocktails and wine in Balthazar’s private dining room in Covent Garden. I’m sure the Kabbee credit will come in handy after a few glasses of wine!”

We checked back in with Brendan a few weeks later to see how he’s been spending his credit……

 “I’ve been making better use of the credit than I could have imagined – it’s been incredibly helpful when bringing home flat-packs from Ikea!”

 

 

1May

Meet the maker: Shiny new app updates for Kabbee

Alex Kershaw - Kabbee's Head of Performance

Alex Kershaw – Kabbee’s Head of Product

It’s been a hive of activity here at Kabbee lately and we’re really excited to announce some great new improvements to our app!

The new version released today makes it much easier and quicker for you to get the licensed minicab you need.

No more messing around with different settings across multiple screens – simply select your required car size or type, input the journey details and instantly get quotes to compare and book. It’s like magic.

Along with general speed and stability improvements you’ll notice a brand new look to the app. We’re really excited about this step forward and hope you enjoy using it as much as we do.

So, who was the main man behind the super new updates?  Meet Alex……

Q&A with Alex Kershaw, Kabbee’s Head of Product

What do you like the most about the new Kabbee app?

We went through so many iterations to get the landing page how it is, so Im very proud of that. The car size slider is really slick but the key thing is that we’ve got a great balance between those users that just want to book a cab as quickly as possible, who are loving the quick quote tiles on the home page,  and those that appreciate all the data we provide on our full quotes screen. It’s been a great team effort,  but this is only the beginning. We’ve just started a long process of simplifying or refreshing every page in the app so there is plenty to come.

What do you think users would find most useful?

The functionality hasn’t changed much, we’ve just collected it all together and laid it out more intuitively on a single screen, although the address search is getting increasingly granular.  At Kabbee we are focused on removing all the pain points in the minicab booking experience. Who do I call? How long will they take? Where am I now? Is there a cashpoint on route? Where is my cab now? Is this fleet any good? What does my car look like….there are so many uncertainties in booking a cab and different people get upset by different things. Our vision is to remove them all and make minicabs a quick, easy and main stream method of travel so different people find our app useful in different ways.

You have been working for Kabbee for more than a year, what’s the feature you are most proud of?

To be honest the best is yet to come. We’ve now got a fantastic design and development team, and its great to be able to innovate and push forward with new features rather than the constant focus on bug fixing and basic functionality. Our roadmap is incredibly exciting, but Track my Kabbee is the current feature im most proud of. We don’t have a driver app because we only work with fleets, and that means we have had to partner with many different players (fleets as well as their respective software providers) to provide this service. Every time the bee starts flapping on the Track my Kabbee screen it makes me smile.

What’s the next big thing you are currently working on?

In addition to some of the features we’re launching on our consumer apps, there are some massive advances happening in our business services. As we’re connecting the industry we are getting more and more data from fleets around car location, which means we can quote more fleets than ever before and give customers quicker or more accurate arrival times.

How many of your friends have you been able to recommend using the Free Cabs programme?

They all signed up before I could give them my code! I missed out there…

How often do you take a cab and what do use minicabs most for?

I live in Crouch End so its not the most public transport friendly place! Coming back from a night out and airport trips are typical trips.

What’s your second favourite app after Kabbee…of course, and why?

I use Yplan a lot. It’s a really useful service that addresses a clear need, and I like the way they have got such a unique look and feel to the overall app design and user experience. Its got character and is not just another iOS7 clone.

What song would make you ask your minicab driver to crank up the volume?

Unfortunately they don’t have any of the tracks I listen to on Heart or Magic….

Check out the shiny new look app here.

5Mar
Taxi-Wars

Kabbee CEO Justin Peters’ response to mincab surge pricing

Justin bio pic (final)

What’s going on in the minicab market today?

Since early 2011 the UK has seen some slick mobile apps enter the market – all with the same aim, to get passengers from A to B, whilst making a profit on every journey. In London alone, the minicab market is worth a massive £3billion/year, representing 70 percent of all London cabs. Smaller minicab fleets dominate the market, but still drivers struggle to get enough work to make a good living from it – despite working 12 hours a day, 6-days a week.

Tell us about the minicab apps entering the market

The minicab apps that have entered the UK market are either successful global leaders, or smaller UK-based start-ups. Whatever their shape and size, the race is on to convince the drivers and passengers from incumbent taxi fleets to move to the new entrants. These new brands are trying to distinguish their offering and this is fuelling an arms race to add new features that make cab booking easier – like surge pricing alerts. Being able to summon a cab from your pocket is empowering and an industry that has slumbered along for 70 years, with very little technical advancement other than GPS, has suddenly become a hotbed of innovation. The big question is, will innovation help the minicab drivers, and what new features could potentially drive down the costs even further for passengers.

Unlike most cab apps, Kabbee matches demand (passengers) with existing supply (fleets). Most other cab apps connect passengers with drivers. After spending years at the minicab office coalface, our industry knowledge is second to none, so we’ve been able to focus on technology and marketing because we’d cracked many of the dispatch decisions early on. Almost three years since launch, Kabbee passengers are booking from 65 different London fleets and travel with over 4000 different cab drivers in any one month. Our London-wide advertising attracts passengers from all over London and these types of campaigns wouldn’t be considered by even the biggest fleets in London because they don’t have the scope to rapidly respond to passengers’ requests all over London 24 hours/day.

What’s next for Kabbee?

The next leg of Kabbee’s journey is to put some serious thought into the dispatch processes so to best to use these drivers in a more efficient way, ensuring that fares are competitive, and that minicabs are paid what they deserve. With traffic in London no faster than it was in Victorian times, and the London population growing by 2000 people every eight days, its fastest ever pace, never has the need for 55,000 cabs to improve their efficiency been so critical. The days of cab drivers spending half their day without a passenger on board will have to end if we are to avoid the most basic solution of adding more cars to the road in order to manage the impending demand increases. There is no need for a growing population to create a crisis.

“There is no need for a growing population to create a crisis.”

Is it all about price?

At Kabbee, we pushed the price comparison message in our early days because it made it easy for passengers to understand how we were different from the other cab apps. Passengers choose a cab based on their price point or based on the earliest arrival time, the punctuality of the fleet or even according to the ratings other Londoners have given the service or the quality of car. The advantages of creating an exchange-based solution is the price and quality transparency. The other advantage is that by having a bird’s eye view of what’s going on in London, if one area of London is particularly busy while another area happens to be quiet, dozens of fleets can mobilise their cars from the quiet pockets to the busy ones. With considerable supply available, and at different price and quality points, the passenger can fret less how peaks of demand, typically on Friday and Saturday nights, will mean having to book well in advance or face significant delays and price disruptions.

Tell us about price surging – why does it happen?

Without meaning to denigrate the existing cab apps, unless they have a City-wide footprint, and can provide stable levels of supply, whatever the day and weather, they will never be able to match the advantages gained by collaboration. Some of these apps have done a great job creating considerable supply in a very short space of time – but with that we see surge pricing. By its nature, there will never be competition within a fleet, correcting an imbalance between supply and demand that may be distorting the journey prices at a particular point in time. The fact that one app now has high minimum charges of £15 on Friday and Saturday night and another app has surge pricing that sees peak fares in excess of eight times the price of off-peak fares, is testament to this. A fleet would probably require 20,000 active daily drivers in London to ensure their passengers get picked up at peak times all over London without price distortions.

By contrast, a Kabbee fleet will react very quickly to rising prices in a particular area by competing that price down in order to win the business. Having the depth of supply is the key here. Fostering competition, in our case by harnessing incumbent operators on a level playing field, enables the best fleet to win as chosen by the passenger. The winning fleet can be different in different places at different times. And that in essence is the difference between a cab app that is using an exchange model and one that is a fleet. Launching in 2011 with almost 40 fleets showed us that we had won huge trust from the sector. We understood how important it was to Londoners to improve the overall service and this gave us a steely determination to make a fragmented group of local fleets behave like a cohesive unit. It was needed to satisfy the consumer need as well as the long-term needs of the cab industry stakeholders.

What do you want to see happen in the future?

With so many new efforts now being made to revolutionise the cab travel experience, it is my hope that the entrants, as well as the incumbents, put their best efforts into solving the logistical problem that has so far been tough to crack. Swiss-watch reliability, great service and a great car at a great price – that’s what people want. The cab sector will then cement its position as an increasingly viable alternative to public transport or to driving yourself and the wealth effect in the sector will mark another step forward.

Justin Peters, Kabbee Founder & CEO

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